Marketing your local business can be a daunting task sometimes, especially if you’re just starting out. Many a time, business owners end up spending a lot of their budget on setting up their business and running it, with very little set aside for marketing it. While this might not necessarily fall under the bracket of ‘wrong practice’, it does fail to recognize the fact that marketing is a key contributor to kick start any business.
You might be thinking, “Let me generate some initial revenue, and then I can use that to budget my business’ marketing efforts”. Unfortunately, this just does not work out in a lot of cases, due to various reasons. On the other hand, you also cannot invest blindly on billboards or TVCs or Google Ads, without knowing if you’ll get a good ROI. Between that and the fact that you will probably be too busy handling your business to research and develop a strategy, marketing might just get placed on the back burner. This goes on to form a cycle of sorts, which goes like this:
It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Well, don’t start sweating just yet, because there is a workaround!
There are several ways you can market your business online without spending a penny. All it takes is time, dedication, and a little patience. The secret is to do all the groundwork for your marketing before you launch so that you don’t end up postponing it due to lack of time. While you’re at it, you can also do a few things to market your business even before you launch! That being said, let’s take a look at how you can market your local business on a €0 budget.
#1 Business Listings
When we talk about free online marketing, getting your business listed on search engines and online directories is probably the best way, and the first thing you should do. Here’s why:
- Google receives over 3.5 billion search queries a day.
- 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business every day.
- There has been a 500% increase in ‘near me’ mobile searches that contain a variant of ‘can I buy’ or ‘to buy’ over the past two years.
These three stats alone are proof that search platforms are a huge avenue for local business discovery. Your business needs to be listed on Google, as it won’t appear on these ‘near me’ searches or local packs otherwise. Besides listing your business on Google My Business, you also need to ensure that it is listed on third-party sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. This is also an important part of improving your business’ discovery through local searches. Take a look at these search results for the query ‘restaurants in Brooklyn’.
As you can see, right below the local pack, you get business listings from third-party review sites and online directories. This means that listing your local business in all the major online directories should also be a priority for your business’ marketing. In addition to this, you can also use free features like Google Posts to keep your target audience engaged with your business. But remember, your business details such as NAP, business hours, etc. needs to be accurate and consistent across all your listings. In case you’re unsure of what directories to list your business in, here’s a list to get you started. You could also use an online listings platform like Synup to automate this process for you and get your local SEO optimized.
#2 Social Media
Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have turned out to be major powerhouses when it comes to marketing small businesses. Studies have shown that people, on an average, spend up to 2 hours a day on social media sites, and marketing your business on these channels is a great way to reach potential customers.
So get started on creating a great business profile on these sites, and make sure you post relevant and informative content about your business and industry, along with your promotional content. Here are a few examples of brands that are doing this right. Additionally, you can even ask your friends and family to give your business a boost on these platforms by liking and following it on these platforms.
#3 Networking Events
Networking events are another great way to market your business without spending any money. Attending networking events and meeting other people who have a vested interest in your industry can prove to be very fruitful when it comes to growing your clientele. These events are also often hubs for sharing knowledge and experiences, which can help you better your business strategies as well. Not to forget the fact that you will almost definitely form useful connections in the industry and get some great word-of-mouth marketing from it.
There are various online forums that you can join to find out about all the events and meetups in your industry. Here’s a list of such forums that you should definitely consider joining. However, you should definitely do your groundwork before you attend these events, so that you are well prepared. This could be anything from advertising the fact that your business will be represented there, to asking your target audience what they would like to discuss at the event, through online communities. Doing so can also help you generate some extra attention towards your business, which is always useful.
Generating great content about your business, industry trends, and news is undoubtedly one of the best ways to gain authority in your field, no matter what it is. When we speak of content, it need not be confined to written content alone. Visual content like images and video are extremely effective ways to engage with your target audience and increase brand awareness. This can be through blogs, video series, or even podcasts. Quality, targeted content has a host of benefits when it comes to digital marketing, including the fact that it greatly increases your ROI.
Although content marketing is a sure shot way to promote your business, you should also be aware of the fact that it is a long term strategy. It needs time and patience to generate results, but it is definitely worth pursuing. If you’re thinking “But how can I use content to market myself on a budget?”, well, there are several ways to do that. Here’s an article by Neil Patel that will help you put together a content marketing strategy on a $0 budget.
These four steps are pretty much all you need to do in order to kick start your business’ marketing, and build loyalty and trust with your customers while also expanding your clientele. Hope it helps!